Mock Exams – why they’re important! Tips to success

The Mock exam season is almost upon us. It’s a time of year that most students don’t look forward to; a time that they either dread or don’t really care too much for. It’s only a practice run after all, right?

In reality, Mock exams help students prepare for the real thing, in a variety of ways. They are a real-life, practice-run ahead of the final exams and allows a student to experience what it feels like to sit in a main hall, rather than in a familiar classroom. The location can have a big impact on nerves for example.

The Mock exam experience can help students learn from mistakes made whilst sitting the exam. Some students will miss sections, forget to turn a page, run out of time or sit there realising that maybe they could have spent more time revising, whilst they wait for the exam to finish. Mock exams also give teachers and parents (as well as the students themselves) an idea of whether the student is on target to achieve predicted grades. So, let’s embrace this experience and find out ways to help students prepare for their Mocks.

8 tips for exam success:

  1. Planning

This can strike fear into many students as they are presented with suggested timetables from school.  For some students a well laid out plan works really well.  For others having an idea what you want to cover in any given week works better.  The key thing is to know what topics you have to learn and when the exams are.

  1. Focus on one thing at a time

When it comes to revising, it is better to find shorter focused blocks of time rather than bigger blocks of time, as you are more likely to get bored and distracted. When you are revising, put your phone away and focus on one thing that you want to study. Those breaks in concentration can be more damaging than you can imagine.

  1. Spend time going over your class notes

Many students will look back over their class notes and think that they will find all the answers they need, but often this is not the case. If you have gaps or find that there is something that you don’t understand, now is the time to do your own research or ask your teacher to explain it again. Use the expertise of your teachers and talk to them about any areas that you are struggling with – they are there to help!

  1. Try other resources

What other ways can you learn? I am an advocate of finding the right learning preferences for each person. Not everyone suits the way subjects are taught in school, and none of us are taught how to learn whilst we are there. On top of having class notes, consider if there are any other ways in which you can immerse yourself on a given topic; such as videos, audios, museums etc. You can read more about the science of learning in my other blog.

  1. Test yourself

It is easy to think that when you are reading or listening to a subject that you understand it. Regularly test yourself to see if you do. When you make an effort to actively process and recall the information, you will learn how much you do really know.

  1. Have you looked at past papers?

Past papers and exam questions are great revision tools. They give you a sense of what may be covered. Were there topics that surprised you? It is easy to not push yourself when revising and to stick to what you already know, our brains like to do what’s easy but this approach won’t help you improve.  Mark schemes are really useful to help you understand what will get you the marks.

  1. Find fun ways to store the harder facts

Maybe when you were in primary school your teacher gave you a fun way to remember how to spell a difficult word. For example, the word ‘because’, could be spelt by remembering the phrase ‘big elephants can’t always understand small elephants.’  This can be a fun way to recall tricky information that doesn’t easily stick. Why not give it a go?  This is particularly useful for students who are tonal learners.

  1. Exercise, diet and sleep

Exercise, diet and sleep are the foundations of helping improve your memory and your ability to focus. Real learning requires sleep both before a test (for focus) and afterwards, (for consolidation). Without that, nothing will stick.

Finally remember the tortoise and the hare fable, slow and steady will get you to the finishing line. Remember the Mocks are the start of your exam journey. This is why the students who start revising for their Mocks and continue on with this process until June feel better prepared and less stressed when the main event arrives.

If you or your teenager are struggling with school, it is quite possible that they still don’t understand their learning preferences. Book a Discovery Session with me, to explore the difficulties your teenager is facing with their learning so that I can offer practical suggestions and begin to resolve the problem areas.



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